Showing posts with label RSS feeds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label RSS feeds. Show all posts

Thursday, May 2, 2019

What is RSS? How Can You Use It?

This is the last thing that I'm going to publish about this ridiculous copyright infringement debacle I've been dealing with for a week. But as I said earlier today, I am going to try to make the best of it by sharing some pertinent and related resources about copyright.

The owner of the site that was republishing all of my posts has been infuriatingly persistent in saying that her copyright infringement was my fault because my RSS feed had too many characters (see the screenshot in this post). Just because you can read something on the Internet doesn't mean that  you can republish it in its entirety without permission (possible exceptions for a Fair Use critique).

If you're wondering what RSS is, Common Craft explained it very well in this video released twelve years ago. With the exception of the mention of Google Reader, the information in the video is still accurate today. Today, your RSS reader options include popular sites and apps like Feedly and Flipboard. (Disclosure: I have a long-standing in-kind relationship with Common Craft).

RSS feeds make it easy to follow your favorite websites in one convenient place. When you follow a site in an RSS reader, you're reading that site's original content with full attribution and full links back to the original source. And if the owner of the site chooses to monetize the RSS feed with advertising, that site gets the benefit of ad revenue (I've made the choice not to include advertising in the RSS feed for Free Technology for Teachers because I think it muddies the reading experience).

Unfortunately, RSS feeds also make it easy for people to republish a site's work in full violation of copyright. Just because a feed exists doesn't mean that you can republish a site's entire content without permission. As Haje Jan Kamps rightly explains in his analogy comparing stealing from a blind shopkeeper to copying content via RSS, just because something is easy to do doesn't make it right or legal.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Curation & Sharing Strategies

Over the last month I’ve been a guest on a couple of Google+ Hangouts and podcasts in which I’ve been asked about my process for curating and sharing resources. I realize that listening to me get long-winded on a podcast or Google+ Hangout isn’t for everyone so I’ve outlined my curation and sharing process below.

Feedly: Even before Google announced the demise of Google Reader I was using Feedly on my Android tablets to browse through my RSS subscriptions. I currently subscribe to 284 blogs and websites through Feedly. Feedly has two big appeals to me. First, the visual layout of vertical tiles on my tablet’s screen and vertically scrolling rows on my laptop’s screen just fit with how I process information. Second, from Feedly I can quickly share to Evernote for bookmarking and to Google+, Twitter, and a myriad of other social networks. (I should note that Feedly seems to act a little differently for my on my iPad. For that reason I tend to use my Nexus 7 or my laptop when catching up on feeds).

Twitter, Google+, Diigo, Emails from readers: Not everything that I write about is discovered through my RSS subscriptions. Some things are discovered through social sharing. Tweets, Google+ posts, Diigo shares, and emails from readers also lead me to good resources. It’s part of the reason why I follow more than 10,000 people on Twitter. I always try to acknowledge in my blog posts whenever one of those social channels leads to a good resource.

⅓ Get Bookmarked or Shared: I flip through thousands of items every week. Of those, maybe ⅓ get bookmarked for further reading or sharing with others. Of those items some have no relevance to my readers, they’re just for my own interest (like things I bookmarked while researching skiing and sailing in Iceland). Other items are worth sharing to my followers on Twitter or Google+ but don’t warrant me writing my own blog post about them (news about an edtech start-up getting a new round of investment is interesting to some followers, but not for most visitors to my blog - I’ll leave that stuff to Audrey Watters who handles it much better than I would).

25% get written about: Of the items that I bookmark and share on social media, perhaps 25% actually make the cut down to where I will try the tool and write a review about it. For an app or website to make that cut it has to meet a few guidelines that I follow for myself.

Making the cut: To make the final cut to appear on my blog an app or website needs to have a user interface that is intuitive enough for the average classroom teacher to feel like he or she doesn’t need a computer science background to use it. In other words, when I take a look at it I think to myself “could all of the members of my department understand how this works?” If the answer is “no,” then I move on from it. There are some exceptions to this rule. Sometimes I come across things that I know will take a while for a teacher to understand how to use, but once they get the hang of it, they’ll benefit from it for a long time. A great example of this is the Doctopus Script for Google Drive. I always tell people that the first few times you try to use Doctopus you’ll probably not get the results you want, but once you get the hang of it you’ll love it.

My other big consideration in deciding what does or doesn’t appear on Free Technology for Teachers or or is whether or not the app or site offers anything different from its competitors. The difference doesn’t have to be huge, but there has to be some difference worth acknowledging. For example, there are hundreds of places to find educational games online, I could write about those all day and night. I only write about the ones that offer something slightly different whether that is they were coded by students, they’re raising money for some charity (see or they have a mechanism for teachers and parents to track students’ progress, it has to have some difference worth noting.

If an app or site is designed for student use I do consider how much advertising or kind of advertising it displays. Pop-up ads that distract students from the flow of an activity will generally lead to an app or site not making the cut.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Five Favorite Google Reader Alternatives

The final countdown to the end of Google Reader is on. In eleven days Google Reader will be closed. I've tried a bunch of alternatives to Google Reader over the last few months. These are the five that I recommend using.

Feedly is a great service for reading your favorite RSS feeds on your iPad, Android device, or in your web browser. Feedly will import all of your Google Reader subscriptions for you with just one click.
I enjoy using the visual layout of Feedly which I feel enables me to browse through my RSS subscriptions more efficiently than if they were just in a list like in Google Reader. I also find it very easy to share from Feedly to Google+, Evernote, Twitter, and many other services.

Flipboard is an iPad and Android application that allows you to read your RSS subscriptions in a magazine-style format. This spring Flipboard introduced the option to collaboratively create iPad and Android magazines by sharing items from your feeds to your magazines. Watch the video below to learn more about collaboratively creating digital magazines with Flipboard.

The Old Reader is a free service that you can use to subscribe to RSS feeds and read all of the latest content from those sources in one place. So that you don't have to re-subscribe to the blogs that you love, The Old Reader will allow you to import your Google Reader subscriptions. You'll notice that The Old Reader looks and acts very similarly to Google Reader. The Old Reader will allow you to share posts, write notes about posts appearing in your account, and organize your subscriptions into folders.

Feedspot is a simple Google Reader replacement. It doesn't have any of the visual effects of Flipboard or Feedly. What it does have is a clean interface that may remind you a lot of Google Reader. In fact, it even uses some of the same keyboard shortcuts as Google Reader. Learn more about Feedspot in this Tekzilla video.

FlowReader is a free RSS reader that I tried earlier this week. I have to say that they couldn't make it easier to import your Google Reader subscriptions. To start using FlowReader just visit the homepage and click "Import Your Google Reader Feeds Now." After clicking that button authorize FlowReader to access your Google Reader feeds and all of your feeds will be imported into FlowReader. If you are using categories in Google Reader, those will be imported too. After importing your feeds you can connect your social media accounts like Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. You can also connect Evernote, Instapaper, and many other bookmarking services to your FlowReader account. FlowReader lets you read your feeds in full article view or in a headline-only view.

Applications for Education
I've always believed that as educators we have a responsibility to continue to read and learn about ideas shared in our field. Creating a set of blogs and websites that you subscribe to is a great way to read and learn about new ideas in our field. These Google Reader alternatives make it easy to create a set of subscriptions and read them on your favorite device. 

I have also tried Zite, Netvibes, NewsBlur, and Pulse. You might also want to take a look at MyLinkCloud's support for RSS feeds.